Tag Archive for: Capitol Weekly

As Drought Persists, Crucial Groundwater Supplies Dwindle

More than 60% of California’s groundwater wells are operating at below-normal levels, endangering much of the Golden State’s population that relies on the precious resource.

Although relatively unknown to many Californians, who see water supply in terms of rivers, streams and reservoirs, groundwater is a hugely vital source that is largely invisible.

Opinion: Keeping Our Water On When The Power Goes Off

During last month’s PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs, like so many across California, my family lost electricity for four days. We couldn’t turn on the lights, access the internet or charge our phones.

But we didn’t lose water for a moment, thanks to the steps our water provider had taken to prepare for this kind of emergency. I sit on the board of that utility, and am proud to say that, while 95 percent of our customers lost power that week, virtually none lost water.

OPINION: Why California Needs Another Water Bond in 2020

The California Legislature is currently considering several proposals to put a $4 billion bond measure on a 2020 ballot for safe drinking water, drought preparation, wildfire prevention, and climate resilience. An $8.9 billion bond initiative has also been filed by environmental advocates.

Many Californians might ask, “Didn’t we already pay for that?”

More Work Needed On State’s Drinking Water Crisis

California has a drinking water crisis. More than 1 million people in California lack access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. Four hundred schools in our state have lead contamination in their drinking water. About 300 public water systems in our state are not in compliance with drinking water standards. This is a public health and environmental crisis. In late July, Governor Newsom signed a law that will establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Starting next year and for the next ten years, this fund will provide $130 million in funding for cleaning up drinking water systems, including many rural areas that lack funding for ongoing operations and maintenance.

Outlook Bleak For California’s 2019 Fire Season

Everyone with any knowledge of the subject agrees: California is on the brink of a potentially disastrous fire season. And there is concern that the problem is not going to be solved soon.

“Our best efforts may still be inadequate,” said Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission told reporters in June. Forty percent of California is in a fire danger zone, Picker added, and  half of the state’s new housing is being built in those danger zones

OPINION: Energy Storage Can Keep The Lights On, Cut Carbon Emissions

Most of us won’t forget those rolling blackouts that took place across California in early 2000.  I remember them well, since I was the one who had to manage the power grid and turn off the lights more than a dozen times. Since then, energy engineers and operators like myself have made a life’s work out of keeping the lights on as California works to reduce carbon emissions and add more renewable energy into the power grid to meet California’s clean energy goals. The challenge is this: California remains dependent on natural gas plants and imported power from other states to meet demand in the evening when the sun goes down and solar energy isn’t available.

OPINION: Marina Bears Heavy Burden in Desalination Dispute

In parched, drought-stricken California, where water is considered liquid gold, the politics of power and wealth are playing out in real-time.

The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) recent decision to allow the California American Water Company (Cal-Am) to proceed with its Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project desalination plant is great news – that is, if you live in Carmel, Pacific Grove or Monterey.

OPINION: State Water Project: Our Most Important Infrastructure

Ask me what tops the list of California’s most critical infrastructure, and I’ll tell you it’s the State Water Project. It’s hard to argue with the fact that water is a prerequisite for all life and a healthy economy. That’s why financing the operation and maintenance of the State Water Project in a responsible, cost-effective manner should be common sense — not a political volley that puts California’s lifeline at risk and threatens ratepayers with a surge in water rates that is easily avoidable.

OPINION: California’s Energy Future: Are We Ready For 100?

Imagine a California powered solely by renewable energy – it may be within reach as the California Legislature considers Senate Bill 100, which would put the state on the path towards 100% fossil-fuel free electricity by 2045. On Tuesday, the bill passed the state Assembly, and it now heads to the state Senate for a final vote before reaching Gov. Brown’s desk by the end of the week. The likely passage of SB 100 has sparked a statewide debate around one question: Are we ready for 100?

A Deep Dive Into Groundwater, Desalination

At the height of the recent drought, the legislature passed and Gov. Brown signed legislation, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), that for the first time required California water agencies to account for groundwater pumping and held them accountable for the development of sustainable plans for the future. Groundwater accounts for approximately 30% of the state’s water supply.